Lacey Fills Key Needs for Storm
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | April 8, 2010
Since losing Tully Bevilaqua to the Indiana Fever in free agency after the 2004 season, the Seattle Storm has tried a variety of different options to back up point guard Sue Bird. Fittingly, the Storm finally got a long-term solution at the position by going back Down Under to select Iowa State point guard Alison Lacey - like Bevilaqua a native of Australia - with the 10th overall pick in Thursday's WNBA Draft.
Because of her combination of skills - great shooting range, size that allows her to play multiple positions and efficient ballhandling - Lacey was near the top of the Storm's draft board. When she was still available with the 10th pick, she was an easy selection for the team.
"We're delighted on how the draft went," Storm Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Brian Agler said by phone from Secaucus, NJ, where he attended the draft at the NBA Entertainment Studios. "We coveted Alison for a long time and we were hoping that she would be there. She covers a couple of needs for us. There's just a lot of things we can do with having a player like that on our team."
Throughout the season, Agler kept a close eye on Lacey as part of the scouting process, knowing that she might be available to the Storm.
"I saw her in person a couple of times," he said. "She made me work because the first two times she had a concussion one time and was sick the other time. Alison's got great range on her three-point shot. She's an extremely efficient ballplayer, has a great assist-to-turnover ratio. She's the ultimate team player."
At 6-feet, Lacey is tall for a guard and played every position but center at times during her Cyclone career. When she did settle in at the point, she finished second in NCAA Division 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio as a senior and showcased her versatility by recording the second triple-double in school history. Lacey's ability to play alongside Bird in addition to backing her up should come in handy.
"What that size does is you can be creative and versatile with your offense and defense," explained Agler. "Sue is the best point guard in the world, but the other thing people don't realize is how well she can score. She's such a great quarterback that people forget she can score and do those things. You put multiple people on the floor with ballhandling skills and it gives us more opportunity to utilize Sue's strengths."
Lacey's shooting ability should also come in handy after the Storm announced Thursday afternoon that forward Katie Gearlds, the team's best shooter off the bench, will sit out the 2010 WNBA season. Lacey shot 37.3 percent from beyond the arc as a senior and also made 87.9 percent of her free throw attempts.
After addressing a need at the point, the Storm was able to achieve another offseason goal of adding athleticism on the perimeter in the second round by drafting Texas A&M wing Tanisha Smith. The 6-foot guard/forward, who was the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year in 2008-09, was good value at the 22nd pick.
"She has great size for a perimeter player, exceptional off the bounce," said Agler. "Has three-point range, good defender. She has a chance to make our team."
With those needs filled, the Storm got creative with its final selection, the 34th overall pick - two from the end of the draft. The team went overseas to select Tijana Krivacevic, a talented 20-year-old 6-5 post from Hungary's MKB Euroleasing Sopron. Krivacevic averaged 8.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game this season in Euroleague play, averaging 23.0 minutes per game on Europe's biggest stage.
"These multiple trips to Europe finally paid off other than getting Lauren (Jackson)," explained Agler, who is headed to Spain this weekend. "I saw her play a year ago in the Euroleague Final Four when she was 18. In fact, I think today's her birthday, if I'm not mistaken, so she turns 20 today.
"She's very versatile, has great size. I don't know if she's somebody who will come over this year, but she's been playing in the Euroleague for three or four years. She started when she was age 16 or 17. She's got a great basketball background. Her father was a great player for Serbia. We feel like let her develop and you never know - she might end up on our roster sometime."
At the conclusion of the draft, the Storm likes the newcomers to its roster.
"We feel good about it," Agler said. "We feel like (Lacey) could work into being the perfect fit for us. Now it's up to her to come in and earn that. A lot of this is you watch them play and you process and evaluate, but then you go to the point where it goes upon them to come in and do the job that you want them to do."